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PLSouthside Scroll

Take 5 With Mo Lowry

When Ms. Jamie Burr went on maternity leave, substitute teacher Mo Lowry stepped in, long term, to cover her freshman biology classes. Unknown to many students, Lowry has a second identity as a mall Santa.


  1. As a substitute teacher and mall Santa, what is your overall impression of teen behavior? 

“When I first walked in here, teen behavior was not the best, but I demand nothing but the best. So I set my ground rules on Monday …  and I couldn’t tell you, this is a total 100 degree turnaround. These kids are phenomenal. And you’re always going to have one or two, and you’re always going to have days….You might be like, this is the last thing you want to do; but you’re going to do it, right? So it’s just like when they walk in here. I don’t know what kind of day they’ve had, but if you feel it out, if you understand and know the students around you, you’ll be able to work with them and have them work with each other so you don’t have a behavior problem.” 


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  1. How did you get started with the Santa gig?

“How did I start? Geez. No one’s asked me that before. I was in the military for many, many years, and so – I had a red beard growing up, in my younger youth – and so I shaved every day in the military, and I continued shaving until 2015. I finally decided to see if my red beard was there – kind of knew it wasn’t, but I thought it would. And half of it was red, and half of it was gray and white. So I went back to shaving until about maybe five years ago. But anyways, I started to see that there was more white. And so I grew it out. My brother, we’re 10 months apart, his is as gray as can be, but mine turned white. So somebody asked me. I worked with a friend with the Open Door Mission, and she’s like, ‘You know, you’d be a good Santa Claus.’ I never thought of it. I was just growing it out. It was very short at the time. And that Christmas, I donned the suit, and I’ve been Santa ever since.” 


  1. What are your plans in education? 

“Well, I have a degree right now in health and human services, in the leadership role, actually. And I worked as an immigration officer. I’ve been training my whole life. And what I mean by that is, when I was in the military, I was a trainer. As an immigration officer, I was a trainer. I have been training people how to swim. I started with Down’s Syndrome children in 2003; I teach them how to swim. And then somewhere along the line, I learned sign language, and now I teach deaf children and adults how to swim. And I’m a swimmer, so I guess that makes sense. So I fell in love two years ago with the classroom again. I substituted a long term for eight weeks. I loved the school. I loved everything about it. And about a year ago, after doing the second long term, I decided I’d go back and get my master’s in education. And my focus is special education on the cognitive side.”


  1. What are the most common behaviors that get a student on your “naughty” list?  

“Lying to me, flat out. Never lie to me. Learned a long time ago. When you tell a lie and then you have to be confronted, the lie somewhat changes. We don’t remember our lies that well, but if you always tell the truth, or your version of the truth, you’re not going to forget it. So, yeah, that’s the only thing I ask. I don’t care if you’re the biggest goofball in the class. Just don’t lie to me.”


  1. What do the “nice” list students all have in common?

“They know how to say please and thank you. I want to keep it right there: Please and thank you. Last Friday, we had a really good week. So I do this thing called Jibbitz Friday. If you wear your Crocs on a Friday, you come in and get a Jibbitz (shoe charm). And the kids, most of them don’t have Crocs. So I had a bag of candy. Almost every single kid that came and got a piece of candy out of there made a point to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Lowry.’ And that meant a lot to me.”


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About the Contributor
Cale Murphy
Cale Murphy, Staff Reporter
I am Cale Murphy i'm a sophomore and i am excited to be starting Southside scroll with the other staff members some things like to do is run, work out, and i'm in drama.
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